How to Clean Battery Terminals in 5 Steps

You wash, wax, and vacuum your car to keep it looking sharp. But have you ever considered cleaning things under the hood? By cleaning your vehicle’s battery terminals, you can actually help the car battery perform stronger, longer! We’ll show you how to clean the terminals and help prevent car battery corrosion in only FIVE steps with materials you probably already have at home!

5 Steps to Clean Corroded Battery Terminals

Materials:

  • Protective gloves, like dish gloves
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Old toothbrush
  • Rag
  • Petroleum jelly

Step 1: Mix up your homemade battery cleaner.

The recipe is simple. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda into one cup of water, and stir it together until it’s thoroughly mixed.

Step 2: Undo the cables from the battery and inspect it.

Make sure your engine is off. Pop open your hood and undo the negative and then positive cable attached to your battery. (Turn to your owner’s manual for help on this part.) Then, assess your battery.

Buildup, battery corrosion, and grime on the terminals can greatly impact your engine and battery performance. If you notice that the battery case is leaking, swollen, or bloated, skip the cleaning and head straight to your nearest Auto Care for a new battery.

Step 3: Dip a toothbrush in your cleaner and start scrubbing!

Grab an old toothbrush, dip it in your baking soda cleaner, and start scrubbing the terminals. This will take a little bit of elbow grease and you’ll need to continuously clean off the toothbrush as you work. Clean the terminals thoroughly, until all of the buildup has been removed.

Step 4: Rinse off the residue with water and dry.

After you’ve removed all of the corrosion and dirt from the terminals, give the battery a quick rinse. Fill up a spray bottle with a bit of water and spray down the terminals. If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can also wipe everything down with a damp rag. Then, use another rag to dry the terminals completely.

Step 5: Rub petroleum jelly onto the terminals and reattach the cables.

Once the terminals are dry, dab a bit of petroleum jelly onto them. This will lubricate them, help prevent further corrosion, and help strengthen the connection. Reattach the positive and negative cables, and you’re all set!

Step 6: Reconnect Your Battery to Your Vehicle

Once you clear the corrosion (step 3), let everything dry completely (step 4), and apply some preventative substances to your battery parts (step 5), you’re ready to reconnect your battery to your vehicle.

Do this in REVERSE order to avoid injury. Start with connecting the positive battery terminal first, followed by the negative one.

At this point, if you want to apply extra battery-corrosion preventative compounds, go ahead!

cleaning battery terminals

Take Safety Precautions

The potassium hydroxide that leaks from batteries are a corrosive material that is highly toxic. The caustic material can cause skin irritation and damage your eyes. It can also cause respiratory problems.

Always take the following precautions when cleaning batteries.

  • Avoid contact with your skin. Make sure to wear rubber or latex gloves.
  • Keep your eyes safe by wearing safety glasses.
  • Make sure the area is well ventilated.
  • If the potassium hydroxide makes contact with your skin, flush the area well with water.

Keeping your car battery clean can help get things moving when your car won’t start and battery flow is weak. Staying on top of your battery’s charge is crucial to avoid getting stranded.

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